Issue: April 2014
April 01, 2014
2 min read

CDC: No time for complacency as HAI rates decrease

Issue: April 2014
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New data from the CDC suggest that one in 25 patients in the United States developed a health care-associated infection in 2011, adding up to approximately 722,000 infections that resulted in 75,000 patient deaths.

However, a second report featured good news: The overall rates of various HAIs have decreased on a national level.

“The report shows that as a nation, we’re moving in the right direction, but there’s a great deal of work still to be done,” Michael Bell, MD, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, said during a media briefing. “Despite the progress we’ve seen, three-quarters of a million patients a year end up with an HAI, and as many as one of nine go on to die. This is not a minor issue.”

One of the most common germs causing HAIs was Clostridium difficile.

One of the most common germs causing
HAIs was Clostridium difficile.

Image: CDC

The first report, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, outlines national HAI estimates from a survey of hospitals in 10 states. The second is the 2012 annual report on national and state-specific progress toward the Health and Humans Services HAI prevention goals.

According to the NEJM report, there were about 721,800 HAIs that occurred in 648,000 hospitalized patients. The most common infections were pneumonia (22%); surgical site infections (22%); gastrointestinal infections (17%); urinary tract infections (13%); and bloodstream infections (10%).

Michael Bell

Michael Bell

The second report, “National and State Healthcare-associated Infection Progress Report: Road Map to Elimination,” highlights decreases in common HAIs. From 2008 to 2012, there was a 44% decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections and a 20% decrease in infections related to surgical procedures. There was less marked progress in MRSA and Clostridium difficile infections. Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 4% decrease in MRSA infections and a 2% decrease in C. difficile infections.

“Although there has been some progress, today and every day, more than 200 Americans with HAIs will die during their hospital stay,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a press release. “The most advanced medical care won’t work if clinicians don’t prevent infections through basic things such as regular hand hygiene. Health care workers want the best for their patients. Following standard infection control practices every time will help ensure their patients’ safety.”

HHS. National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination. Last updated and accessed March 26, 2014.
Magill SS. N Engl J Med. 2014;370:1198-208.